University of Vermont AAHS

Lewis v. Erie County Agricultural Society

New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
256 A.D.2d 1114, 684 N.Y.S.2d 733
December 31, 1998

 

Summary of Opinion

Plaintiff Lewis was kicked by her own horse at a horse show run by defendants.  The Appellate Division concluded that because she was a highly experienced equestrienne, plaintiff understood the risks of working with animals and assumed the risk that she might be kicked by her own horse at defendant’s horse show.  Therefore, she could not sue defendant for that injury.
 

Text of Opinion

Plaintiffs commenced this action to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by Cynthia Lewis (plaintiff) when she was kicked by her own horse at a horse show run by defendants. Defendants appeal from an order denying their motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Defendants contend that, as a matter of law, plaintiff assumed the risk of being kicked by a horse and that, in any event, her injuries were not proximately caused by defendants' alleged negligence.

We conclude that plaintiff, a highly experienced horsewoman who for decades has been in the business of buying, selling, breeding and showing horses, knowingly assumed the risk of being kicked by her horse (see, Rubenstein v. Woodstock Riding Club, 208 A.D.2d 1160, 1160 1161; see generally, Morgan v. State of New York, 90 N.Y.2d 471, 484 486; Benitez v. New York City Bd. of Educ., 73 N.Y.2d 650, 657; Turcotte v. Fell, 68 N.Y.2d 432, 438 439). The risk of being injured is an ordinary, usual and inherent risk of working with animals such as horses (see, Rubenstein v Woodstock Riding Club, supra, at 1161, cited with approval in Morgan v. State of New York, supra, at 484; see also, Turcotte v Fell, supra; Arbegast v Board of Educ., 65 N.Y.2d 161; Harrington v. Colvin, 237 A.D.2d 992, lv denied 90 N.Y.2d 808; Hammond v. Spruce Meadow Farm, 199 A.D.2d 1014). In reaching our conclusion, we note the "considerable experience" of plaintiff in showing horses, "her admitted familiarity with the particular horse and premises, and her awareness and appreciation" of the very risk that eventuated (Hammond v. Spruce Meadow Farm, supra, at 1014; see also, Rubenstein v Woodstock Riding Club, supra, at 1161). Under the circumstances, defendants fulfilled their legal duty to plaintiffs, which was " 'to make the conditions as safe as they appeared to be' " (Morgan v. State of New York, supra, at 484, quoting Turcotte v. Fell, supra, at 439).


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